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Protest over KiwiRail factory cuts

Monday 26 Nov 2012 12:24 p.m.

By Kloe Palmer

Protestors angry over redundancies at KiwiRail's Dunedin Hillside factory crashed the TranzAlpine's birthday party this morning.

The scenic train that travels daily between Christchurch and Greymouth marked its 25th anniversary with brand new carriages in tow.

The protestors did their best to upset the celebrations, angry that Dunedin's Hillside railway workshops will no longer be making carriages for KiwiRail. 

The TranzApline is the last of KiwiRail's trains to be fitted with the new scenic carriages. The wagons were built in Dunedin, and will almost certainly be the last.

After operating for around 130 years, last week it was announced that most of the Hillside factory is to close.

"It's a shame what's happening in Hillside, but we've looked at that very carefully, but unfortunately we just don't have enough of this sort of work to keep them as active as we would have liked," says KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn.

The Government now plans to buy carriages from overseas, saying they're cheaper and can be made faster.

"We'd just like to mention that those wagons that they got made in China appear to have costed more than the ones they could of made at Hillside," said a protester.

The move off shore means around 90 Hillside workers now face redundancy.

"It's about keeping Kiwi jobs for Kiwi workers in New Zealand," says Labour MP Megan Woods. "There's no reason not to make those wagons at Hillside."

This morning's journey was slightly delayed, but the protest would have given tourists on the TranzAlpine something to talk about on their ride through the Southern Alps to Greymouth and back.

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